Recruiting Top Talent for Tough Problems

reprinted from Issue 19, Fall 2014 of Frontiers of Medicine (PDF)

Gloria and Richard Kushel

The people at UCSF are an incredibly dedicated group of outstanding medical professionals and scientists," says Rich Kushel. "But they are competing for great talent with a lot of other big universities and medical centers, some of which have a real funding advantage. My wife and I wanted to help UCSF attract the best early- career faculty, and help them grow and blossom."

Kushel, chief product officer for global investment management firm BlackRock, and his wife, Gloria, recently made a gift through their family foundation to help accomplish this goal. Their donation provides seed funding to recruit and retain the most promising junior faculty members to the Division of General Internal Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), helping them establish their research programs.

The first recipient is Courtney Lyles, PhD, who is investigating the best ways to teach patients to engage with electronic patient portals – websites that allows them to securely communicate with their doctors and manage aspects of their health care online. Many vulnerable patients face additional challenges in taking full advantage of this resource, such as limited computer access or low literacy.

The Kushels were inspired in part by Rich Kushel’s sister, Margot Kushel, MD, an SFGH internist and an expert in the health problems of homeless adults. "Through my sister, we have been very exposed to the work of UCSF, and the difference that the people there are able to make," says Rich Kushel. "When you focus on underserved populations, you have lots of grateful patients, but not typically ones who are able to make a donation to help build the program. We thought this was a place where we could really make a difference."

"This generous gift from the Kushels will allow us to develop creative faculty leaders who are courageously tackling fundamental issues important to the health of vulnerable patients," says Neil R. Powe, MD, MPH, MBA, chief of medical services at SFGH and the Constance B. Wofsy Distinguished Professor.

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